The Nobleman of the Woods

We have seen hundreds of promotional items for Walt Disney's live-action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Many of them are on this blog and can be seen by clicking on the label  'Film Promotion' and 'Memorabilia.' 

When a new Disney film was released, every form of advertising was used. Toys, books, clothing, games, sweets, records etc. Above is unusual stationery from Portugal, which I presume you would describe as a letterheading.  Below Maid Marian (Joan Rice) and Robin Hood (Richard Todd) is O Fidalgo Dos Bosques, ' The Nobleman of the Woods'.

Joan Rice in 1969

Joan Rice with her two labradors c.1969


This website is dedicated to the memory of Joan Rice (1930-1997) and down the years I have tried to piece together the life of this forgotten English actress. Joan was always quick to say that she was Walt Disney's first Maid Marian. And it is this role that has stayed in the hearts of myself and most of my readers.

I discovered this newspaper clipping about Joan quite recently, unfortunately, it has no date or name of the publication. But it must have been about 1969:

"At 40 Joan is still as attractive as she was in her heyday. Her green eyes shine brightly, her hair is tousled and she has a face which has lost its plumpness but retained its photogenic qualities... in fact, a perfect film face.

The last time she appeared in the cinema was in Payroll with Michael Craig and Stanley Baker.

'Also in the film was Billie Whitelaw who became a great chum of mine and has helped me an awful lot over the last few years,' says Joan.


After she got out of show business she had a succession of office jobs. But her life of obscurity since then hasn't depressed her in the slightest. 

 Her marriage was dissolved in 1964 and now she lives alone. Asked if she would consider marrying again she gives a flat 'NO' in reply.

She has a 16-year-old son, Michael, at school in America who she hasn't seen for over two years. 'That's just one of the things you have to accept,' she told me sadly.

After this film at Elstree, there is nothing definite in the pipeline for Joan's second assault on the pinnacle of success. She knows it won't come as easily as it did last time, but she is now experienced and prepared to work hard.

'Life begins at 40 for some people,' she says. 'However, I believe it starts whenever you want it to. When you are old enough to take things as they come and accept that there have to be problems it is then that it really begins." 

If this press report was published in about 1969, a year later she would be filming at Hammer Studios where she played the grave robber's wife alongside Dennis Price in The Horror of Frankenstein.

Dennis Price and Joan Rice

I have been told by several people that Joan adored her two labradors (see photo at top of page). In fact, it was reported that the dogs often attended rehearsals with her. I wonder if they accompanied Joan to the Hammer Studios?

Robin Hood Fotobusta and Lobby Cards

Matt Crandall has recently made me aware of an Italian fotobusta (above) from an early release of Walt Disney's live-action movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

The fotobusta/photobusta serves a similar purpose to the 'lobby card' found in other countries.

They are usually issued in a set, each showing a different image or scene from a film. They can be found in both portrait and landscape formats. 

We now have a huge collection of film posters on this blog, issued during the various release dates of The Story of Robin Hood. But I think these lobby cards are also worth looking at.

The style and quality of this selection make me think they were produced during the early release dates of the film.

After seeing this wonderful film all those years ago, I would have loved to have owned these!

Don't forget to visit my 'Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men' Facebook page.

Robin Hood Model


Laurence has made many valuable contributions to this website over the years. Who can forget the popular comic strip he created using images from the film and the of course the amazing banner for this blog!

 Last week he sent me an email:

"Hi, I don't think I have shown you these before. It's a model I made in the 1970s. It was a conversion from a 1/32 scale Airfix (remember them!!) World War 2 soldier. Then another which is a 1/12 scale conversion from an Airfix, if I remember correctly, Bengal Lancer which I did about ten years later. 
Anyhow, just thought I would show them to you.

Best regards,



I think my readers will agree with me when I say Laurence has an amazing talent.

The detail of these models is truly amazing and would enhance any collection. Many thanks, Laurence for sharing these with us.

Robin Hood Game


Laurence has been busy sorting through his collection of film memorabilia and sent me images of this game. He says:

"It is a Chad Valley game from 1952 called "Sherwood Forest" which

features our Robin Hood movie [Disney's Story of Robin Hood]. I acquired it some time back but

apparently, it didn't come in a presentation box but just as you see it

here as two separate parts.

Anyway, just wanted to share it with you and the merrie band!"

This must be a very rare example of Disneyana (Disney collectables). And thanks to Laurence we are fortunate enough to see it.

If you have any memorabilia from Walt Disney's live-action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952), please get in touch.

Robin Hood Flour Poster

Matt Crandall has kindly sent me a copy of this 'Robin Hood Flour' poster. It was issued as part of the promotion for Walt Disney's live-action movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

We have looked at this advertisement several times. Janet VanMeter, a Robin Hood fan and regular blog reader, shared pictures of her complete cookie-cutter collection.

Also included in the film promotion were three giveaway small comic books, 7.25 inches tall x 5 inches wide and printed by Western Publishing. The first free comic was ‘The Miller’s Ransom,’ followed by the ‘Ghosts of Waylea Castle', the third is sadly unknown. The comics were written by Don Christensen and illustrated by Tony Sgroi and Russ Manning.

 Robin Hood Flour was founded in 1900 by Donald Mclean in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in western Canada. In 1909 the mill was taken over by Francis Atherton Bean of Minneapolis and within two years, it produced over 1,600 barrels of flour daily.

Using the green and red archer emblem as a sign of good value and respectability, Robin Hood Flour and its recipes have remained popular for over a century. In the late 50s and early 1960s, the company even used a jingle made from the theme tune of the classic TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood which starred Richard Greene.

Although the illustration on the poster is supposed to represent Richard Todd as Robin Hood, I don't think it's a very good likeness. What do you think?

If you want to see previous articles about Robin Hood Flour, just click on the label 'Film Promotion.'

Robin Hood's Promotion


Above is a screenshot from the Daily News (London) on March 14th 1952 showing Joan Rice at the London Première of Walt Disney's "Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men":

'There's no mistaking Maid Marian (Joan Rice) as she arrives for last night's première. Robin Hood motifs trim her tulle skirt. Her velvet bodice is in Lincoln Green, of course.

The amount of advertising and promotion that went on before and during the release of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) never ceases to amaze me. I have once again been delving in the newspaper archives and discovered another glimpse of the work that went on. This article appeared in Kinomatograph Weekly on March 5th 1952:

RKO’s Showmanship Link with CMA for ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Saturday Island ' 

"The world premières of both ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Saturday Island’ are to be presented by RKO-Radio, with the operation of CMA, in traditional showmanship fashion. They will be launched with publicity campaigns outstanding even in RKO showmanship.

A few days before the opening, on March 13, of Walt Disney’s ‘Robin Hood’ in Technicolor, at the Leicester Square Theatre, the Daily Graphic will start its picture serialisation and will be sponsoring a £200 competition on popular lines. It will be backed by widespread national campaigns by Kelsey Newspapers. The première, like that of the provincial opening later, in Manchester, will be in aid of the National Advertising Benevolent Society.

The BBC will serialise ‘Robin Hood’ on five successive evenings starting April 28 on the Light programme from 6.15-6.45 p.m., a time when the film will be at the height of its general release. The material will be from the sound track of the film with added matter recorded by stars Richard Todd and Joan Rice.

Joan Rice and Richard Todd

It will also be featured on the day of the première itself, in ‘Film Time’, while Joan Rice has a special ‘Robin Hood’ spot on television’s ‘Kaleidoscope.’ Many of Britain’s large circulation magazines are also devoting big spaces to the picture tying in with its première and general release.

In addition to this editorial coverage, national advertising started last Thursday with prominent spaces in leading journals and a widespread poster campaign both in the West End and in the provinces.

National tie-ins have also been arranged with a large number of commercial houses.

Elton Hayes, the BBC man with a small guitar, who makes a film debut in the picture, will tour key presentations in the provinces."

Kinomatograph Weekly March 5th 1952

I would love to hear those recordings that Richard Todd and Joan Rice made for the BBC! 

Does that episode of 'Kaleidoscope' with Joan Rice survive?

Martitia Hunt

Martitia Hunt as Queen Eleanor


"Hold! I am Eleanor, by the wrath of God, Queen of England. Down on your knees, you traitorous dogs!”

With these haughty lines, Martitia Hunt as Eleanor of Aquitaine, attempts to stop an attack, by the Sheriff’s soldiers, on the royal entourage in Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood. A regal role she played with her usual scene stealing ability.

In the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Donald Roy describes Martitia thus:

"With an arresting appearance and a dominant stage presence, she proved most effective as strong, tragic characters, her Gertrude in Hamlet being accounted by some critics the finest they had seen."

Martitia was born on a ranch in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Alfred and Marta Hunt on 30th January 1900. When she was ten, the family returned to England, where Martitia attended Queenwood boarding-school in Eastbourne. She trained as an actress under Dame Genevieve Ward and Lady Benson. And by 1920 she had appeared in her first movie, an obscure 2 reel, silent film, produced by Walter West called The Rank Outsider.

After joining the Liverpool Repertory Theatre, Martitia moved, in September 1929, to London and later, on John Gielgud’s insistence, she joined Harcourt Williams’s Old Vic Company for a season. It was there that she established herself as a stage actress and went on to make notable performances, particularly in Shakespearian plays, such as, Gertrude in Hamlet, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, the Queen in Richard II and Rosalind in As You Like It, alongside Gielgud.

Like many actors and actresses of her time, Martitia divided her career between stage and film production. In 1932 she made her first ‘talking’ picture debut as Aline, in Alexander Korda’s Service For Ladies. Many supporting, or cameo roles followed, including Aunt Esther in When Knights Were Bold (1936), Lady Francis Brandon Grey in Tudor Rose (1936) (alongside Cedric Hardwick and John Mills) and Lady Bogshott in Good Morning Boys (1937).

With middle age, Martitia finally achieved her greatest success. Firstly with her role as cousin Agatha in the 17th century costume drama, The Wicked Lady (1945) alongside Margaret Lockwood and James Mason. Then with a reprisal of a character she had performed in 1939.

David Lean had seen Martitia as Miss Havesham, along with Alec Guinness as Herbert Pocket, in a stage production of Dickens’s novel, after being taken to the Rudolf Steiner Hall by his wife Kay Walsh. This inspired him to film his later award winning classic, Great Expectations (1946) in which both Martitia and Alec Guinness recreated their roles. This masterpiece proved to be a benchmark in movie production and went on to win two Oscars. One for its art direction and also for Guy Green’s (later director of photography on Disney’s Robin Hood (1952)) black and white cinematography.

Martitia’s brilliant, unforgettable performance, as the mad recluse, Miss Havesham, in the atmospheric setting of ‘Statis House,’ brought her world wide recognition. Three years later she made her Broadway debut in The Madwoman of Chaillot and won a Tony Award for Best Actress (Dramatic) for her 'Countess Aurelia'.

But her success, firmly began to typecast her in roles, as an ‘eccentric grand dame’ or ‘evil aristocrat.’ Gradually she reduced her stage work and in May 1956, played in her last theatre production, as Angelique Boniface in Feydeau’s farce, Hotel Paradiso. This was at the Winter Gardens, with Irene Worth and Alec Guinness, whom she had given voice lessons, at the beginning of his acting career.

More regal roles followed in her film career, including Princess Betty Tversky in Anna Karenina (1948) and the Duchess of Berwick in The Fan (1949).

The tall, stately, velvet voiced, Martitia Hunt, was of course, the perfect choice to play the part of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952). As the mother of the crusading King Richard I and his scheming brother Prince John, she found herself the linchpin of a divided kingdom, a part, the elegant Martitia, was made for.

Her later, notable films, included Anastasia (1956) as Baroness Elena von Livenbaum with Ingrid Bergman, The Admirable Crichton (1957) as Lady Brocklehurst and as Anna Richter, the story teller, in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962).

In the final years of her career, Martitia once again found herself with regal roles like the Empress Matilda in Beckett(1964) and the Grand Duchess Lupavinova in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, (1964). Her last two films were the mystery thriller, Bunny Lake is Missing (1965) in which she played the part of Ada Ford and the sex comedy, The Best House in London (1969) as the headmistress.

Martitia Hunt died of bronchial asthma at 7 Primrose Hill Studios, Fitzroy Road, Hampstead, London, on 13th June 1969. She was 69.